Feelings of Structure

How places, objects, fantasies, histories, and memories get under our skin and how we understand their affective connections.


Sweatsuits and the apocalypse, the demands of a sofa, a life recalled through window frames, whale watching through cancer, the serendipity of geographical names … in Feelings of Structure, these are just some of the spaces and places, memories, and experiences addressed by the authors in writings that are multilevel explorations of the tangled-up nature of feeling and structure.

Inspired by Raymond Williams’s classic essay “Structures of Feeling” and influenced by the current discussion of affect studies, this collection inverts Williams’s influential concept to explore the ephemerality of feeling as working in concert with the grounding forces of materiality and history.

Feelings of Structure is a collection of twelve original texts that explores the weight of diverse encounters with a variety of configurations, be they institutional, spatial, historical, or fantastical. Featuring writers from a range of disciplines, this book aims for textual evocation in subject matter and approach, with essays that encompass multiple methodologies, writing styles, and tones.


Much looking forward to this unusual set of writings, out this fall from McGill-Queens University Press.  Contributors include Craig Campbell, Michael Daroch, Lindsey Freeman, Christien Garcia, Mark Jackson, Adam Lauder, Adam Kaasa, Kimberly Mair, Lee Rodney, Joey Russo, and Lesley Stern.  More details and pre-order here.


ethnic cleansing, UK style

windrush

A series of recent stories in the Guardian researched by the indefatigable Amelia Gentleman have highlighted an “immigration anomaly” in which people who came to Britain as children in the 1950s and ’60s (when they were still “British subjects”) and as such have an absolute right to remain in the UK are being subjected to loss of employment, housing, health care and other benefits unless they can retrospectively provide documentation proving their continual presence in the UK.

In the words of the Home Office, “Recent changes to the law mean that if you wish to work, rent property or have access to benefits and services in the UK then you will need documents to demonstrate your right to be in the UK. The government believes this is a proportionate measure to maintain effective immigration control.”  The burden of proof lies with the immigrant, and the documentation requirements (four separate pieces of documentary evidence of every single year spent in the UK) are truly Kafkaesque.

Here are the stories of two of the people whose lives have been turned upside-down.

paulette wilson

61-year-old Paulette Wilson “moved to the UK in 1968 when she was 10 and has never left. Because she had never applied for a British passport and had no papers proving she had a right to be in the UK, she was classified as an illegal immigrant. Last October, she was sent to the immigration removal centre at Yarl’s Wood in Bedford for a week, and then taken to Heathrow before deportation to Jamaica, a country she had not visited for 50 years and where she has no surviving relatives.

The former cook, who used to serve food to MPs in the House of Commons and has 34 years of national insurance contributions, was horrified at the prospect of being separated from her daughter and granddaughter. A last-minute intervention from her MP and a local charity prevented her removal. After Guardian publicity she has since been given a biometric card, proving she is in the UK legally, but she will have to reapply in 2024 and is already worried about the process. She has had no apology from the Home Office.”

renford mcintyre

64-year-old Renford McIntyre “is homeless and sleeping on a sofa in an industrial unit in Dudley. He has lived in the UK for almost 50 years since arriving from Jamaica in 1968 at 14, to join his mother who had moved here to work as a nurse. He has worked and paid taxes here for 48 years, as an NHS driver and a delivery man, but in 2014 a request for updated paperwork from his employers revealed he did not have documents showing he had a right to be in the UK. He was sacked; the local council told him he was not eligible for housing support or any benefits, so he became homeless.

He gathered together paperwork showing 35 years of national insurance contributions but the Home Office returned the application requesting further information. ‘I can’t tell you how angry and bitter it makes me feel. I’ve worked hard all my life, I’ve paid into the system. I’ve sent them details of my NHS pension, and HMRC records going back 40 years. They’ve got all my documents. What more do they want?’ he said. ‘How do they expect me to live? How am I expected to eat or dress myself?'”

Downing Street has now rejected a formal diplomatic request from representatives of 12 Caribbean countries for a meeting with the prime minister to discuss the situation.

This is not an “immigration anomaly.”  It is a deliberate policy.   It is called ethnic cleansing.


 

come back Enoch, all is forgiven

powell

Meantime in what looks suspiciously like a fiftieth anniversary commemoration, the BBC chose this week to broadcast in full Enoch Powell’s 1968 “rivers of blood” speech, in which the then Conservative cabinet minister warned true Brits that “in 15 or 20 years’ time, the black man will have the whip hand over the white man” and foresaw a future in which “They found their wives unable to obtain hospital beds in childbirth, their children unable to obtain school places, their homes and neighborhoods changed beyond recognition.”

The BBC media editor, Amol Rajan, who presented the program, proudly tweeted on Thursday: “On Saturday, for 1st time EVER, Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech will be read in full on UK radio.”  The Trumpian capitals were Rajan’s.

The actor the Beeb chose to read Powell’s text, Ian McDiarmid, who plays Powell in the play What Shadows?, told the Daily Telegraph that Powell was “not a racist” and was right “in terms of the numbers.”  These days, McDiarmid went on, everyone accepts that “[immigration] can’t go on in an unlimited way because the results, as he said, would be catastrophic”.


 

family values

laura + Biniyam

“Clarke and Tesfaye first got together when she was teaching English at a primary school in Addis Ababa; he was one of her colleagues: ‘We met on my first day. We were friends for about a month, and then after that, things started to develop,’ she says …

Elijah is one of an estimated 15,000 children living without a parent because of restrictions on family visas. Tesfaye would like to live with his family in the UK, but in order to apply to bring over a foreign partner, you must earn at least £18,600 a year. Clarke’s work as a college teacher and PR for a charity brings in an income that is usually “a few hundred a month” short …

The Home Office explanation is short and sharp. ‘Those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family must work hard and make a contribution,’ a spokesperson says. ‘Family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense.'”

Nice to know Mrs May is keeping the bloodlines pure.  Obviously that should trump UK citizens’ rights to marry who they want and expect to live with their spouse.


 

mens sana in corpore sano

legal aid

Best not be disabled in Brexitland either.  “The extent to which savage government cuts have deprived disabled people of legal aid in disputes over their benefit payments is revealed today by new official figures that show a 99% decline since 2011,” reports the Guardian.

“The total number of disabled people granted legal aid in welfare cases has plummeted from 29,801 in 2011-12 to just 308 in 2016-17, cutting some of the most vulnerable people in society adrift without expert advice in often highly complex and distressing cases …

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson denied the government was depriving the most needy of help. ‘Maintaining access to justice remains at the heart of our legal aid system, and last year we spent over £1.6bn to ensure help is available for those who need it most,’ the spokesperson said.”

Ethnic cleansing and eugenics always did go nicely together.  What next, euthanasia for those whose defective genes endanger the national stock?


 

a landmark republished

cunard negro

One Englishwoman who would not have appreciated Theresa May’s attempts to turn Little Britain into a sotto voce Third Reich is Nancy Cunard, whose anthology Negro was published in an edition of 1000 copies in 1934 has never been reprinted in full since.

In a timely counterpart to the BBC’s resuscitation of the racist bile of Enoch Powell, the Paris-based publisher jeanmichelplace has just reissued Cunard’s landmark anthology in full in facsimile form.

“This highly illustrated book of eight hundred and seventy-two pages dedicated to the history of Africa, Madagascar and the black Americas brings together two hundred and fifty articles by one hundred and fifty-five authors,” writes Sarah Frioux-Salgas, archivist at Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, introducing the volume.  “The contributors were activists, intellectuals, journalists, artists, poets, academics, anthropologists, African-Americans, West Indians, Africans, Malagasy, Latin Americans, Americans, Europeans, men and women; some were colonized, discriminated against, segregated.  The book melds popular culture, sociology, politics, history, ethnology, art history, and includes articles, archives, photographs, drawings, portraits, excerpts from the press, poems, musical scores, testimonies as well as statistics.”

“At no other time in the history of America,” Nancy Cunard noted in her Foreword, “have there been so many lynchings as in the past two years, so many ‘legal’ murders, police killings and persecutions of coloured people.  The Scottsboro frame-up is more than an attempt to electrocute 9 innocent black Alabamians—it is part of the effort to force into the dumbest and most terrorised form of subjection all Negro workers who dare aspire to live otherwise than as virtual slaves” (emphasis added).  Her words have unfortunately lost none of their currency.

Highly recommended.


 

The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images.  These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality.  I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.”  

These fragments are intended to function in the same way.  Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.

 

tina fontaine

In a case widely seen as yet another example of the Canadian justice system’s betrayal of indigenous people, on February 22 56-year-old Raymond Cormier was acquitted of the murder of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine.  Tina’s 72-pound body was found in Winnipeg’s Red River, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks, on Aug. 17, 2014.

This verdict follows hard on the heels of Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley’s equally controversial acquittal for the murder of 22-year-old Colten Boushie of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, whom Stanley admitted shooting in the head at point-blank range.  There were no indigenous people on either jury.

This chronology of Tina’s last days, compiled by CBC, documents what witnesses said happened during her time in Winnipeg before she died, and what police did after her body was found.  It is a horrifying story of (at the least) official neglect of duties of care toward a minor.  Read in full and soak up every tragic detail.


 

opium dreams

 

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“More than 2 million Americans are now hooked on some kind of opioid, and drug overdoses — from heroin and fentanyl in particular — claimed more American lives last year than were lost in the entire Vietnam War. Overdose deaths are higher than in the peak year of AIDS and far higher than fatalities from car crashes. The poppy, through its many offshoots, has now been responsible for a decline in life spans in America for two years in a row, a decline that isn’t happening in any other developed nation. According to the best estimates, opioids will kill another 52,000 Americans this year alone — and up to half a million in the next decade.

We look at this number and have become almost numb to it. But of all the many social indicators flashing red in contemporary America, this is surely the brightest. Most of the ways we come to terms with this wave of mass death — by casting the pharmaceutical companies as the villains, or doctors as enablers, or blaming the Obama or Trump administrations or our policies of drug prohibition or our own collapse in morality and self-control or the economic stress the country is enduring — miss a deeper American story. It is a story of pain and the search for an end to it. It is a story of how the most ancient painkiller known to humanity has emerged to numb the agonies of the world’s most highly evolved liberal democracy.  Just as LSD helps explain the 1960s, cocaine the 1980s, and crack the 1990s, so opium defines this new era. I say era, because this trend will, in all probability, last a very long time. The scale and darkness of this phenomenon is a sign of a civilization in a more acute crisis than we knew, a nation overwhelmed by a warp-speed, postindustrial world, a culture yearning to give up, indifferent to life and death, enraptured by withdrawal and nothingness. America, having pioneered the modern way of life, is now in the midst of trying to escape it.”

Informative, thoughtful, and disturbing essay on America’s opioid epidemic by Andrew Sullivan in New York magazine.   Essential reading.


 

generational politics

 

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In the wake of the attacks by old white GOP politicians on the activist teenage survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the latest PEW Research Center survey on generational attitudes in American politics repays careful reading.

While it is clear that age intersects with other important variables in shaping conservative vs. liberal attitudes (e.g. “Millennials are more than 40% nonwhite, the highest share of any adult generation; by contrast, Silents and older adults are 79% white”) the conclusion is that there is a huge generational divide in current American politics.  Currently, the elders hold all the Trump cards.

“Generational differences have long been a factor in U.S. politics. These divisions are now as wide as they have been in decades, with the potential to shape politics well into the future.

From immigration and race to foreign policy and the scope of government, two younger generations, Millennials and Gen Xers, stand apart from the two older cohorts, Baby Boomers and Silents. And on many issues, Millennials continue to have a distinct – and increasingly liberal – outlook.

These differences are reflected in generations’ political preferences. First-year job approval ratings for Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, differ markedly across generations. By contrast, there were only slight differences in views of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton during their respective first years in office.”

As I wrote in Talkin’ ’bout My Generation  at the beginning of 2018:

Today’s Anglo-American world is ruled by the most privileged members of an entitled and narcissistic generation that will not consider sharing its wealth or its power.  My generation played a disproportionate part in voting them into office.  The new gerontocratic order is epitomized in Donald Trump’s cabinet.  But it is also reflected in Rolling Stone magazine’s exclusionary list of the top twenty greatest albums of all time.

I cannot help thinking it would have been better if a few more of us had died before we got old.  Just enough that the young really could say fuck off to their elders, and not just through their music.

No apologies offered to ancient snowflakes.  The first one now will later be last.


 

Britain’s Muslim footballers

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Manchester United’s Paul Pogba

“Cut through the bigotry of a vocal minority, and there are some pretty uplifting football chants to be heard in England nowadays. Particularly popular at Liverpool is one dedicated to an Arab striker.

It contains the lines: “If he’s good enough for you/He’s good enough for me/If he scores another few/Then I’ll be Muslim too,” and ends with the words: “He’s sitting in the mosque/That’s where I want to be.”

Those who revere “Egyptian King” Mohamed Salah – the subject of the song – are not just paying tribute to arguably the best player in the Premier League at the moment. They’re also adhering to a distinctly British tradition of tolerance and respect. This should be cause for immense national pride.”

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, and Emre Can, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, Manchester City’s Yaya Touré,  Arsenal’s Mesut Özil, Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele, Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez, Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté, Newcastle’s Islam Slimani … heroes of the Premiership, the richest and most competitive football (soccer) league in the world.

The Guardian brings a little light to Brexitland.


 

child brides of kentucky

Myra Lee Brown London 23 May 1958

Jerry Lee Lewis and his 13-year-old bride Myra Gale Brown (who was also his first cousin once removed), London, 23 May 1958

“A bill outlawing child marriage in Kentucky has stalled in the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee after last-minute opposition from a conservative group,” reports Newsweek.

“The bill was proposed by Republican state Senator Julie Raque Adams, and bans marriage under the age of 17, with those seeking to marry at that age requiring a judge’s approval … Under current law, a girl of any age can marry as long as she is pregnant and wedding the expectant father. Teens aged 16 or 17 can marry with parental permission.”

“This is legalized rape of children,” commented Eileen Recktenwald, the executive director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs. “We cannot allow that to continue in Kentucky, and I cannot believe we are even debating this is the year 2018 in the United States.”

I can.  In 2017 the Independent revealed that more than 200,000 children were married in the US over the past 15 years, including three 10-year-old girls and an 11-year-old boy.

This land is Trump’s land, this land is Moore’s land.  And this preposterous country still sees itself as leading the world?


 

The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images.  These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality.  I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.”  

These “snippets” are intended to function in the same way.  Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.

 

 

henna, Syria, and the Muslim ban

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“The night the United States launches fifty Tomahawk missiles on the Syrian Shayrat airbase near Homs, I am washing henna and indigo out of my hair. The tub is splashed with tourmaline blue, speckled like the delicate markings on a sparrow’s egg, and from the living room I can hear the newscasters referring to margin of error, airpower, and the “perils of the region.” The water runs down the drain.

When I was little, I used to pore over the photo albums of my parents’ wedding and their honeymoon in Syria, tracing the shots of my cousins and aunts and great-grandparents lined up in the courtyard for family photos, dozens of demitasses of Turkish coffee and laughter over backgammon. How young and strong my father still looked in the eighties, fifteen years before the doctors saw a constellation of powdered glass strewn across the wide basin of his lungs.

The reporter drones on, and the night bursts open on the other side of the world. I squeeze the last of the muddy water from my hair, riming my fingernails with blue …”

The beginning of Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar‘s stunningly beautiful, sad, and angry essay in the Paris Review on being the child of Syrian immigrants, born in America.


 

the bros of UC Berkeley IT

berkeleygro_featured

 

“… the red flags started to pop up almost immediately. Even before she started. Several of her soon-to-be coworkers suggested her mid-day interview be moved to a restaurant where they could get beer. It was a preview of a culture where employees would go out drinking every night, which lead to hostile treatment of women if they went, and ostracization if they didn’t, according to multiple sources, including three of the women who worked at EEI, Sarah Fernandez, Zoey Lin, and [Vanessa] Kaskiris …

They were belittled, the men rolled their eyes and texted when they talked in meetings, they were criticized for not being “technical” enough, they were kept off the most challenging and high profile projects, stuck with the work that no one else wanted to, saddled with marketing and PR work. There were jokes about periods and childbirth. When Fernandez had made her case that she deserved a raise, the men in the team found out about it and ostracized her, refusing to sit on the same side of table with her in meetings. Men sabotaged these women’s work by refusing to grant them technical permissions, or putting up other roadblocks. They were called names like “little girl” if they were too feminine or criticized for having “too much testosterone” if they tried to be one of the guys …”

Kaskiris took them to Berkeley’s Office for Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, who agreed that the University IT department had “created a hostile work environment, based on gender” in violation of both Berkeley’s own rules and the discrimination protections of the U.S. Department of Education and the Civil Rights Act.

Five days later Kaskiris was laid off “due to mandatory budget cuts.”  A chilling story of sexism at the “home of free speech,” told in all its nasty bro by bro detail by Sarah Lacy.


 

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

ghost-in-the-shell-poster-8

“A French state prosecutor has opened an inquiry into incitement to racial hatred after the selection of a mixed-race teenager to play the folk heroine Joan of Arc in annual festivities in Orléans was met with racist abuse from far-right users of social media,” reports the Guardian.  Seventeen-year-old Mathilde Edey Gamassou’s mother is Polish and her father is from Benin.

“Joan of Arc was white,” read one Twitter post. “We are white and proud of being white, don’t change our history.”

Another comment, on the anti-Muslim site Resistance Republicaine, complained: “Next year, Joan of Arc will be in a burqa.”


 

British values

 

Dazed & Confused reports: “Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre has long been infamous for its indefinite detention of women seeking asylum in the UK. Since Wednesday, 120 women detained have been on hunger strike to protest the issues they say they are facing – from the “detention of people who came to the UK as children” to “systematic torture”.

A Home Office spokesperson told The Independent: “Detention and removal are essential parts of effective immigration controls, especially in support for the removal of those with no lawful basis to stay in the UK.

“We take the welfare of our detainees very seriously and any detainees who choose to refuse food and fluid are closely monitored by on site healthcare professionals.”

Asked what he thought of western civilization, Mahatma Gandhi is said to have responded “I think it would be a good idea.”

 


 

hard facts

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Cabrini Green housing project, photo from Halley Miglietta, Ceilings of Oppressions series

“Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified ‘white racism’ as the key cause of ‘pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing,'” writes Tracy Jan in the Washington Post, “there has been no progress in how African Americans fare in comparison to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration, according to a report released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute.

In some cases, African Americans are worse off today than they were before the civil rights movement culminated in laws barring housing and voter discrimination, as well as racial segregation …

The share of incarcerated African Americans has nearly tripled between 1968 and 2016 — one of the largest and most depressing developments in the past 50 years, especially for black men, researchers said.  African Americans are 6.4 times as likely than whites to be jailed or imprisoned, compared with 5.4 times as likely in 1968.”

As I said, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.


 

The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images.  These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality.  I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.”  

These “snippets” are intended to function in the same way.  Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.

archive fever

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The Schlesinger Library at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study has acquired more than 150 boxes of papers, photographs, pamphlets and other material that span Angela Davis’s life.

Professor Davis’s archive, reports the New York Times, “ranges from her childhood in segregated Birmingham, Ala., where she was born in 1944 to activist parents; to her studies with the Frankfurt School philosopher Herbert Marcuse (who recalled her as his most brilliant student); to her more recent activism with groups like Critical Resistance, the prison-abolition advocacy group she helped found in 1997.”

The archive also includes the typescript of Davis’ 1974 autobiography, complete with handwritten queries and comments from her editor, Toni Morrison.

“Its richest vein concerns the tumultuous period that began in 1969, when then Gov. Ronald Reagan ordered [Davis] fired from her teaching position at the University of California, Los Angeles, because of her Communist Party membership, before she had even taught her first class …

In 1970, she was charged with murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy charges after guns she had purchased were used in an attack on the Marin County Courthouse that was aimed at liberating the Soledad Brothers, but instead left four people, including the attacker, dead.  The trial that followed — in which Professor Davis participated in her own defense — sparked an international campaign, turning ‘Free Angela’ into a global rallying cry.”

And today, nearly half a century on, a white supremacist sits in the White House and the prisons are fuller than ever with black bodies.  Progress, y’all.


field notes from liberal America

Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church

“Long before Trump came along to capitalise on it, Islamophobia was building in the US, bubbling up like swamp gas from the depths. Often, racial conflict would manifest itself in small, seemingly isolated local planning fights over proposals to build mosques …

There is, literally, an anti-mosque playbook. Tactics were once unwritten, spread through websites and word of mouth, but more recently they were set down in a book titled Mosques in America: A Guide to Accountable Permit Hearings and Continuing Citizen Oversight. Written a Texas attorney, it was published by the Center for Security Policy, an organisation headed by Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration official who has long espoused the theory that Muslims are engaged in a secret plot to impose sharia law on the US. Gaffney writes in the book’s introduction that it is a ‘how-to manual for patriotic Americans who are ready to counter the leading edge of Islamic supremacism.'”

Well-researched, informative, and decidedly chilling long read from the Guardian.


field notes from Trump country

coal-oil-industries-see-brighter-future-after-trump-victory

“Epidemiologists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say they’ve identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported, a cluster that was first uncovered by NPR 14 months ago.

‘This is the largest cluster of progressive massive fibrosis ever reported in the scientific literature,’ says Scott Laney, a NIOSH epidemiologist involved in the study.

‘We’ve gone from having nearly eradicated PMF in the mid-1990s to the highest concentration of cases that anyone has ever seen,’ he said.

The clinics are operated by Stone Mountain Health Services and assess and treat coal miners mostly from Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia, a region that includes what have historically been some of the most productive coalfields in the country …

PMF, or complicated black lung, encompasses the worst stages of [pneumoconiosis], which is caused by inhalation of coal and silica dust at both underground and surface coal mines.

Miners gradually lose the ability to breathe, as they wheeze and gasp for air … Lung transplants are the only cure, and they’re possible only when miners are healthy enough to qualify.”

Beautiful, clean coal.


Polish. Death. Camps.

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BBC reports that “Poland’s Senate has approved a bill making it illegal to accuse the Polish nation or state of complicity in the Nazi Holocaust.  The bill provides that ‘whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich … shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years.’

President Andrzej Duda says Poland has the right ‘to defend historical truth.'”

Alternative facts, anybody?


 

little local library

hrabal wall

Heartening to read that while President Erdogan fires academics and imprisons journalists, “Turkish garbage collectors in the country’s capital city of Ankara have opened a public library that is full of books that were originally destined to be put into landfill. The workers began collecting discarded books and opened the new library in the Çankaya district of Ankara. News of the library has spread and now people have begun donating books directly to the library, rather than throwing them away.

As CNN reports, the library was originally created for the use of the employees’ friends and family but, as it grew in size, the library was officially opened to the public in September of last year …  The library now has over 6,000 fiction and non-fiction books and includes a children’s section, an area dedicated to scientific research books, and a number of English and French language books for those who are bilingual.”

Eerily reminiscent of Bohumil Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude.


 

The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images.  These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality.  I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.  

These “snippets” are intended to function in the same way.  Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.

 

white middle class

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Photo Eric Thayer for the New York Times

“Though class divisions are a frequent topic for [big-city newspaper columnists], little attention is paid to seemingly important factors like income, access to basic services and the intersections between class and race. Instead, pundits choose to focus entirely on superficial cultural differences and consumer choices. The result is a constant stream of patronizing paeans to a mythical rural America and bizarre, half-baked theories that replace sociology with observations about which restaurants people go to …

This kind of misguided prejudice is also apparent in liberal circles. A few months ago, Keith Olbermann, the unofficial head of the #Resistance, criticized Trump for hosting Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent, and Kid Rock at the White House, whom he called “trailer park trash.” Classism aside, Olbermann fell into the same trap … he saw white people with bad fashion sense and assumed they must dwell at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Obviously, all three of Trump’s guests are now multimillionaires, but even pre-fame they were far removed from poverty. Sarah Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska is a suburb of Anchorage; her father was a science teacher and she enrolled in a four-year college immediately after high school. Ted Nugent was raised in the Chicago suburbs; Kid Rock the Detroit suburbs, where he grew up in a home that was recently put on the market for $1.3 million. Palin, Nugent, and Rock are exactly who the statistics show propelled Trump to victory — the comfortable white middle class.”

Sharp essay by Alex Nichols from July 2017.


 

all my mirrors of belonging have cracked

han suyin

“With my first book, and as I worked, much harder, on the next, a slow unravelling of our tie began. As my own sense of a place in the world grew, I could no longer understand her passion for China with quite the sympathy I once had. She refused to see both sides of the story after the Tianamen disaster, and created a counter-narrative. For years I held her intransigence responsible for the unravelling tie, but I can see now how I wanted her be who she no longer wanted to be. I wanted her to return to writing introspective fiction. I wanted her to be the cosmopolitan New Asian she’d been in her prime, not an apologist for a duplicitous regime or an old-style Chinese conservative. I wanted her to admit to feelings of exile and loss, while I still followed the party line she handed me: We are not divided. We are multiple. There is no unbelonging. There are no borders.

And yet if she hadn’t had to work through the dilemmas of dispossession there would have been no public persona, no sweeping statements, no grande dame of the Chinese Revolution. But that was her public role. The Suyin I knew had left home long, long ago and could only inhabit temporary shelters. Even the language she wrote in was her third. Suyin admitted to crushing loss. Suyin survived it all. Suyin was a superlative.

Even in our wholeness there are fractures. I’d compose letters to her:

‘Suyin, there are divisions. There are – to use one of your favourite words – contradictions. Contested belongings. No composites, no continuous wholeness: only an illusion, a yearning, a longing.

I never wrote them or if I did I left them unsent.”

Aamer Hussain writes in Granta on his friendship with Han Suyin.


 

identity politics

no man's land

“When the ban happened, it was like I was stripped away from being able to call myself American. It was a wake up call, and I felt like all I had left was Sudan – but it felt out of reach, like grasping for something while every inch of your body tries to pull you back. In the wake of that, traveling back to Sudan was different. This time, I didn’t want to leave. Lately, I’ve been having thoughts about what life would look like for me, had my parents never immigrated. I’m a Muslim American straddling the fine line between being too black and not black enough, too Muslim and not Muslim enough, too Arab and not Arab enough. This fluid sense of mis-identity has become my identity.

I’ve never lived in a place where I felt like I was a part of the majority, where I didn’t have to worry about taking up space. I love Sudan, but deep down I know it will never be for me what it is for my parents. America won’t either. If you asked me today to choose between the two I don’t know what I would say. I guess I’m accepting that I will forever be in this space of falsified identity. In limbo. The Trump ban forced me to reexamine my role as a Sudanese American. It reminded me that freedom will forever be a fleeting notion.”

Nadra Widatalla writes in Dazed and Confused on what Trump’s “Muslim Ban” means to her.


 

Nikesh Shuckla takes the last train home

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It’s late and I’m on a train back to Bristol. I’ve just done a talk about a book I worked on, about race and immigration and I’m wearing the name of the book – The Good Immigrant – across my sweatshirt.

It’s late and I’ve spent the evening talking at people, so I’ve bought myself a burger and a beer to keep me company on the two-hour journey home.

The train is packed until Reading, as it always is, and then deathly quiet. Bored and with a need to stay awake, I put on a crap Jason Statham film, perfect company for the long journey. The action-packed thrills will keep me awake because if I fall asleep and miss my stop, I’m ending up in Swansea.

The further the train gets from London, the more it empties out. I don’t really notice it at first. I’m too engrossed in the film.

Around Swindon, three men get on the carriage shouting loudly. They sit around me and talk. I realise, looking at them, and around, and up from my Jason Statham film, that the carriage is empty, except for me and for them. They are carrying beer cans and talking in that high octave slur that carries most lads home from the pub after closing time. One of them looks at me and my sweatshirt then gets up and moves closer.

As he stands, he says: “There’s no such thing as a good immigrant” …


 

Friday night lights in the era of BLM

KIPP Gaston School

“I am so pissed this morning,” began a soon-to-be viral Facebook post. “KIPP Gaston College prep is trying to make my granddaughter kneel for the national anthem at the football game Friday night.”

It was the tail end of September 2017, past the midway point of the most politically charged year since the last one, and President Trump had just ignited a national controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. In an act of Twitter jujitsu, Trump turned Colin Kaepernick’s protest against social injustice into a referendum on patriotism, the military and the flag, opening the latest front in his ongoing culture war.

Now the battle had come to a charter school in rural North Carolina. For a few hours on social media, the national debate over Kaepernick’s protest movement exploded inside one school in a small town, exposing how the polarized politics of the Trump era have trickled from Washington DC down into America’s communities …”

A long read and a salutary one.


 

The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images.  These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality.  I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.  

These “snippets” are intended to function in the same way.  Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.

Making America White Again

safactnumbers

House Republicans have introduced the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760). The bill would institute the most severe restriction on legal immigrants since the 1920s.

H.R. 4760 would reduce the number of legal immigrants by more than 420,000, or 38 percent, in 2019. The bill has much in common with a Trump-endorsed bill in the Senate—the RAISE Act (S. 1720)—that would reduce the entry of legal immigrants by more than 470,000, or 43 percent, in 2019. Each would further reduce legal immigration over time.

Both bills would end the diversity green card lottery and ban the entry of all legal immigrants sponsored by U.S. family members, except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens. Lawful permanent residents would no longer be able to bring in spouses or children. The RAISE Act would also reduce the age at which U.S. citizens can sponsor minor children from 21 to 18, while the House bill would roughly halve the number of asylees. Both bills immediately cancel applications for millions of people who have waited years to become legal immigrants.

MAGA, y’all!


 

You go, girl!

aly reisman.png

“Last Friday, the multiple gold medal‑winning US gymnast Aly Raisman delivered an electrifyingly powerful victim statement at the sentencing hearing of the former US gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. If you haven’t watched it, I recommend you take the time. For any 23-year-old to speak with such intensity, poise and control would be remarkable; to do so directly to her sexual abuser in a packed courtroom under the gaze of the cameras is of a radically different order …” (Marina Hyde in the Guardian).  I couldn’t agree more.


 

stay classy, boys

pc_dinner

Meantime in Britain, where they find Donald Trump awfully vulgar, a “charity fund-raiser” takes place at the Dorchester Hotel.

“It is for men only. A black tie evening, Thursday’s event was attended by 360 figures from British business, politics and finance and the entertainment included 130 specially hired hostesses. All of the women were told to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels. At an after-party many hostesses — some of them students earning extra cash — were groped, sexually harassed and propositioned … Hostesses reported men repeatedly putting hands up their skirts; one said an attendee had exposed his penis to her during the evening.”

Among the guests was Nadhim Zahawi, undersecretary of state for children and families.

Time for the tumbrils?


 

dear white people

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S. T. Holloway very lucidly explains “why this black girl will not be returning to the women’s march”:

“In 2014, I, along with several hundred other people, marched in protest against the shooting of Ezell Ford, an unarmed black man killed by the Los Angeles police just days after the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. And whereas the Women’s March felt like a mosh pit, the Ford protest felt more like an empty parking lot, with protesters walking freely down open streets alongside normal traffic, their movements unrestricted by a voluminous crowd.

While there were certainly some white allies present joining their voices in solidarity, noticeably absent from the Ford protest were the throngs of white women I saw at the Women’s March: the soccer moms, the college students, the housewives with their children in tow, the grandmothers, the career women, the retirees and so on.

Instead, the majority of those present were the regulars, black and brown folks, and in particular, women. On that day, as we have before and have since, we found ourselves alone in our pain. We found ourselves alone in our pleas and cries for justice, for the end to the killing of our children and husbands and fathers and brothers, for the cessation of the systematic dismantling of our families, and for recognition that our lives and the lives of the ones we love do matter.

This willful blind eye, this deliberate ignorance, fosters a culture where millions protest when white women’s access to health care is threatened, but when black maternal death rates in the United States are on par with women in countries like Mexico and Uzbekistan, there is no national outrage or call for reform or worldwide protest.”

Weird.


 

a messy and chaotic mind

zadie smith

“I don’t think of myself as a contrarian. I’m useless at confrontation. But I also can’t stand dogma, lazy ideas, catchphrases, group-think, illogic, pathos disguised as logos, shoutiness, ad hominem attacks, bombast, liberal piety, conservative pomposity, ideologues, essentialists, technocrats, preachers, fanatics, cheerleaders or bullies. Like everybody, I am often guilty of some version of all of the above, but I do think the job of writing is to at least try and minimise that sort of thing as much as you can.”

The wise and wonderful Zadie Smith answers questions from Teju Cole and other fans on the occasion of the publication of her new book of essays Feel Free.


 

The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images.  These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality.  I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.  

These “snippets” are intended to function in the same way.  Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.

 

Vic Mensa: What Palestine Taught Me About American Racism

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“For once in my life I didn’t feel like the nigger. As I sat comfortably at a coffee shop, gawking at a group of Israeli soldiers harassing a Palestinian teenager, it was clear who was the nigger. My American passport, ironically, had awarded me a higher position in the social hierarchy of Jerusalem than it did in my hometown of Chicago.”

His debut album The Autobiography is pretty stunning, too.


 

Key findings about U.S. immigrants

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By way of background to what nowadays passes for politics in the United States (or should I say United Shitholes?) of America.

The U.S. foreign-born population reached a record 43.2 million in 2015.  Immigrants today account for 13.4% of the U.S. population, nearly triple the share (4.7%) in 1970. However, today’s immigrant share remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S.

Useful data from the Pew Research Center.  In snowflake Canada, by way of comparison, the foreign-born population was 20.6% in 2011 Census.  The sky hasn’t fallen yet (and the food choices get better by the year).


 

Sense and sensitivity

3000

“After the 10th or so person sent me the stunningly silly anti-#MeToo letter signed by Catherine Deneuve and a hundred other French women (the actual authorship of which we’ll get to), informing me that I’d love it because finally someone was standing up for sanity, I considered a form letter response: ‘If the question is whether #MeToo has gone too far or not far enough, the answer is obviously BOTH. Putting yourself on one side or the other is politically obtuse.'”

Thank you Laura Kipnis.  Pissing off all sides, as usual.  Both/and rather than either/or.  Courage, subtlety, and intellect, very well worth the long read.


 

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at 200

my fair lady

But Frankenstein is no memoir. The question it asks, “How far is too far?”, is at the very heart of modernity. The Romantics, Mary among them, “leaned in” to progress … Published early in this classical era of modernity, Mary’s novel still helps us define its terms today. Shorthand for the way we experience ourselves within a world of increasing man-made complexity, “modernity” is both positive and negative, signalling hope for progress as well as our fear of change. Frankenstein identifies the mismatch between human experience and what we are expected to become as technology and science advance.  (Fiona Sampson, on her new book on Mary Shelley).

“It is the migrant, the refugee, and the Muslim that have become the poor lone impossible monsters abhorr’d of our time, the nameless figures of terror against whom we must circle our wagons and strengthen our walls.  It is salutary how quickly Helena’s sympathy for the robots [in Karel Čapek’s play R.U.R.] turns to disgust once she learns they are not “just like me”—once, that is to say, they have been convincingly Othered, cast outside the pale of the League of Humanity.  “Oh, stop!  At least send them out of the room!” she begs.  In this respect R.U.R. is a more pertinent text for our times than Frankenstein, because of its grasp of this dialectic of resemblance and alterity, attraction and repulsion, fascination and fear. We can send them out of the room but the suspicion of their humanity can never be exorcized.  It eternally returns to haunt us, pricking the collective conscience—in the image of a three-year-old Syrian boy in blue shorts and red top lying face down, drowned, on a Greek beach, for instance, or in the blank, uncomprehending face of a black man who cannot believe he lost all his fingers to frostbite while trying to walk from North Dakota to Manitoba.  The more we can’t get them out of our heads, the more we wish they would just go away.  Make it stop!  Do I hear murmurings of a Final Solution?  We have been here before, and it wasn’t in 1816.”  My take on why Shelley’s astonishing novel still matters.


 

Nonsense and insensitivity

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London’s oldest strip club, the Windmill Theater in Soho, has lost its license after a women’s rights group hired private detectives to gather evidence that the venue broke a ban on physical contact between dancers and clients.  Stacey Clare is a stripper, performance artist, writer, activist and co-founding member of the East London Strippers Collective.  She writes:

“Closing down a venue may feel like a victory to those who champion the abolition of the industry, but taking work away from women relying on it is tantamount to taking food from our mouths. Thousands of girls who otherwise have less value in the wider job market (foreign nationals, single mums, anyone with any sort of disadvantaged background) are turning to stripping and other forms of sex work to survive. According to the English Collective of Prostitutes, record numbers have moved into the sex industry under austerity, which disproportionately affects women, particularly single mothers. In fact, putting women out of work is about the most un-feminist thing possible …

Their [feminist anti-strip club campaigners’] cloak and dagger tactics reveal the kind of attitude women’s rights campaigners have towards us, the women at the centre of this issue – that we, the ‘victims’, cannot be trusted to have a say in the matter so decisions must be made on our behalf, rather than consult with us directly.”

The infernal problem of false consciousness, aka I know what’s good for you better than you do, dear.


 

The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images.  These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality.  I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.  

These “snippets” are intended to function in the same way.  Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.

 

Roads to nowhere

Lower Manhattan Expwy

 

The postwar passion for highway construction saw cities around the world carved up in the name of progress. But as communities fought back many schemes were abandoned – their half-built traces showing what might have been.

Among others: the Lower Manhattan Expressway, New York; Spadina Expressway, Toronto; Marina Freeway, L.A.; Glasgow Inner Ring Road (Charing Cross); Plan Pompidou, Paris; Olympyka highway, Poland; Borovsko Bridge, Czech Republic.


 

Modern cruelty 1 (Making America Great Again)

saalvadorans expelled

 

 

Nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador who have been allowed to live in the United States for more than a decade must leave the country, government officials announced Monday. It is the Trump administration’s latest reversal of years of immigration policies and one of the most consequential to date.

Homeland security officials said that they were ending a humanitarian program, known as Temporary Protected Status, for Salvadorans who have been allowed to live and work legally in the United States since a pair of devastating earthquakes struck their country in 2001.


 

Concerto Al Quds

adonis-450x250

A man who loves his shackles,
a wife fully veiled,
a girl wearing a headscarf,
and halal meat.
A hotel, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a graveyard.

Donald Trump recently and controversially announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the seemingly endless debate over the city and the possibility of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine flared up again in the headlines. Coincidentally, recent weeks have also seen the publication of Concerto al-Quds, a book-length poem meditating on the history and fate of Jerusalem, from the renowned poet Adonis.


 

Modern cruelty 2 (England for the English aka Taking Back Control)

icilda williams

‘I cry most days.’

An 83-year-old widowed nurse who worked for the NHS for 30 years before retiring to Jamaica has had multiple requests to visit her family in the UK refused, despite drawing an NHS pension and a full British state pension.

Icilda Williams moved to the UK from Jamaica with her husband in 1962. Both were Commonwealth citizens and British subjects. The couple bought a house in Bradford, had children there – all of whom are British passport holders – and Williams devoted her life to caring for mentally ill children in two local hospitals.


 

My skin is contraband

Cookie-visits-Lucious-Terrence-Howard-prison

“I pull on a long black-and-white mottled skirt, a black t-shirt, and black flats. Each of these items of clothing is carefully considered. The skirt covers my legs and tattoos. The shirt is loose, but not too loose, and covers other tattoos. The shoes are unlikely to set off the metal detector. It’s 65 degrees out and so I risk a light sweater. Here I might run into problems. It’s voluminous and has a cowl neck, both of which might raise suspicions that I’m smuggling in contraband. It also has a meshed back which, though I’m wearing a shirt under it, may still be too suggestive of the possibility of seeing flesh that it will be nixed …”

A woman dresses for a prison visit.  A remarkable essay by Tiffany D. Vann Sprecher.


 

Modern cruelty 3 (Making America the Greatest Ever, Baby)

visa denial letters

Five-year-old Gamila Almansoob has asked the same question for years: “When are we going to daddy?” Each time, the Yemeni girl’s mother gives the same reply: “When we get the paperwork.”

Gamila’s father, Ramy Almansoob, a US citizen, moved to Virginia in 2015 with the hopes that his wife and three daughters could soon follow and escape their war-torn home country. After a lengthy vetting process, the visas were approved on 4 December 2017. That same day, however, the US supreme court ruled that Donald Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen, could go into effect.

 

The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images.  These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality.  I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.  

These “snippets” are intended to function in the same way.  Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.

 

 

Selective humanitarianism

ahed photo

Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, was recently arrested in a night-time raid on her home. The Israeli authorities accuse her of “assaulting” an Israeli soldier and an officer. A day earlier she had confronted Israeli soldiers who had entered her family’s backyard. The incident happened shortly after a soldier shot her 14-year-old cousin in the head with a rubber bullet, and fired tear-gas canisters directly at their home, breaking windows.

Her mother and cousin were arrested later as well. All three remain in detention.

There has been a curious lack of support for Ahed from Western feminist groups, human rights advocates and state officials who otherwise present themselves as the purveyors of human rights and champions of girls’ empowerment.

Their campaigns on empowering girls in the global South are innumerable: Girl Up, Girl Rising, G(irls)20 Summit, Because I am a Girl, Let Girls Learn, Girl Declaration …


 

Israel Offers African Migrants a Choice: Ticket Out or Jail

israel african migrants

“Every country must guard its borders,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, announcing the plan. “The infiltrators have a clear choice — cooperate with us and leave voluntarily, respectably, humanely and legally, or we will have to use other tools at our disposal, which are also according to the law.”

Later, on Facebook, Mr. Netanyahu wrote, “The government approved a plan today that will give every infiltrator two options: a flight ticket out or jail.”

It is the latest phase of Israel’s long campaign to expel tens of thousands of African migrants and asylum seekers, mostly Eritrean and Sudanese, who entered the country illegally. At least 20,000 have already left Israel. “The mission now,” Mr. Netanyahu said, “is to deport the rest.”

Absolutely not an apartheid state, and to criticize it as racist is anti-Semitic. After all, isn’t the US doing the same thing?


 

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

diallo

A bitter row over the difficulties of debating racism in France has erupted after a high-profile feminist and anti-racism campaigner was forced off a government advisory body, prompting the resignation of the director and most of its members.

Journalist Rokhaya Diallo has repeatedly spoken out against what she calls institutional racism in France, notably police stop and search practices against non-white young men …

“When I talked of institutional racism in France, I was hugely reproached for it,” Diallo said. “The fact is that Jean-Michel Blanquer, instead of concerning himself with the racism that is produced by the state, prefers to take legal action against an expression …”

“The foundation stone of the French Republic is that all citizens should be equal and free from distinctions of class, race or religion. It is illegal to classify people by ethnicity or to collect data or ask census questions on race or origins.  But campaigners say this masks ongoing problems of racism and discrimination in society.”


 

Moby dick

 

moby

A possible plan to move the city’s dogs onto a plant-based diet has the backing of prominent vegans such as Moby, but others warn it could get messy.

Proponents say it will make Los Angeles the world’s progressive capital.  Sceptics say it will mean diarrhea, lots of diarrhea.

The proposal, which has divided scientists and animal rights groups and inflamed social media, is to put dogs in the city’s public shelters on a vegan diet.

First world problems, much?


 

Lana Del Rey’s America

 

lana del rey

Del Rey’s America was always a kind of dystopia—a bubblegum pastiche, except peopled by lecherous old bikers and drug addictions and bad boyfriends who stalk her through beaches and deserts and stifling small towns. America is as much a character in her work as a setting, shaping and stealing scenes. What’s made her brand of Americana endearing to many is that it manages to be enthusiastic about the idea of America while filtering its reality through enough hazy nostalgia to wipe out any notion that she’s talking about a country that actually exists—or ever did …

With Trump’s election, the bleak, kitschy America Del Rey holds onto has acquired another layer. Trumplandia has made her rethink her patriotism, in other words, but not abandon it.  In an interview with Pitchfork, the singer said she would stop flying the stars and stripes behind her when performing “Born to Die,” the title track off her first album.


 

The English surrealist and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings explained the intellectual project of his book Pandaemonium as to “present, not describe or analyse” the “imaginative history of the Industrial Revolution … by means of what I call Images.  These are quotations from writings of the period in question … which either in the writing or in the nature of the matter itself or both have revolutionary and symbolic and illuminatory quality.  I mean that they contain in little a whole world—they are the knots in a great net of tangled time and space—the moments at which the situation of humanity is clear—even if only for the flash time of the photographer or the lighting.  

These “snippets” are intended to function in the same way.  Click on the headings to go to the original articles, which are mostly from the mainstream aka fake news media.